NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV)-Just over 12 hours after polls closed in Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes conceded in the U.S. Senate race paving the way for Senator Ron Johnson to serve a third term.
Among a sea of his supporters many of whom were visibly emotional, Barnes said he was proud of the race that he ran.
“I know that you all are disappointed and I’m disappointed too because we all deserve better,” said Barnes. “But more than that I’m determined, this is not the time for us to tune out it’s time for us to double down.”
In a full-circle moment, Barnes made his concession speech at the Sherman Phoenix Marketplace in Milwaukee the same place where he announced he would run for senator about a year ago.
“My story should not be the exception it should be the rule,” said Barnes. “Everybody should have a fair shot at success.”
With Barnes down late on election night, his campaign staffers sent supporters home, but didn’t concede.
Barnes spokesperson Maddy McDaniel released a statement saying “no matter what anyone says, we are committed to making sure every vote is counted. We will wait and see what the Wisconsin voters have decided after all their voices are heard.”
The Associated Press called the race around midday on Wednesday with Johnson leading by about 27,000 votes with 99 percent of the votes counted.
“I did have a chance to talk with Senator Johnson and I told him the same thing that I’ve been saying all along to each and every one of you since the start of the campaign reminding him that every single person in the state of Wisconsin deserves a chance to achieve their dreams,” said Barnes.
Johnson hasn’t made a formal victory speech yet.
On Wednesday morning before the Associated Press called the race, his campaign sent out a statement saying:
“The corporate media is refusing to call a race that is over. The votes are in. In all Democrat strongholds, municipalities are reporting 100% of wards are in and counted. There are some counties that have anywhere from 3-10% of the votes outstanding. These localities represent areas where we are winning by over 60%.”
“There is no path mathematically for Lt. Gov. Barnes to overcome his 27,374 vote deficit. This race is over. Truth has prevailed over lies and the politics of personal destruction. I want to thank my family and everyone who supported me and worked so hard to save this U.S. Senate seat. I will do everything I can to help make things better for Wisconsinites and to heal and unify our country.”
On election night, Johnson held a lead over Johnson for most of the night. However, when he addressed his supporters around 1 a.m. he didn’t declare victory.
“I’m not going to declare victory until all the numbers are in,” said Johnson. “But I just want to give you the sense that this race is over.”
On election night, Johnson’s campaign staffers told Local Five News that Senator Johnson would make a formal victory speech in Neenah at 10 a.m.
In the morning, a Local Five News reporter received a text from a campaign staffer saying the victory speech was no longer happening. An explanation wasn’t given.
The Associated Press hadn’t called the election by 10 a.m. When the media organization did a few hours later, Johnson held a 27,000-vote lead.